My love/hate relationship with the iPod Nano

My inconsistent running BFF

My running frenemy

On Christmas 2011, B bought me an iPod Nano – not a romantic gift, but a very sentimental one since he saw how I ooh’ed and aah’ed over the radio and run tracker features and knew that was the perfect gift for me.  Plus, it was pink!

So I created playlists galore, stocked up my iPod, and became acquainted with my new running BFF.  I learned that the fitness feature wasn’t very accurate (though I’m sure it would be had I bought the accompanying Nike+ pod thing for your shoes), but that you can set a given amount of time like 2 hours, and the lady-voice will tell you how long you’ve ran in 10 minutes or so increments.  I loved the feature of the radio, since if you like a song, the iPod will let you know the title and artist.  I didn’t like the jiggle feature which would automatically skip to the next song since I would run with it, but learned that it could be turned off and I could just use the face or sleep/wake button to skip to the next song.  It was all sorts of all good until one overcast April morning, when I decided I didn’t want to listen to a song, I tried to fast forward with the sleep/wake button, and it became stuck.  In complete denial and mild panic, I tried to fiddle with it to see if I could “pop” it out, but it was all pretty fruitless.

Fairly annoyed since I didn’t have complete autonomy of when I can fast forward (control freak much?), I went to the nearest Apple store and made a beeline to the Genius bar.  Apple employees always seem to have a hipster, mellow feel to them, and the guy that helped me was no exception.  He explained that since it was under a 1 year warranty, that I could either have it shipped off to get it repaired (because B had engraved sweet nothings in the back of the clip), or I could get a replacement one.  Not wanting to be without an iPod and since I had already given my previous iPod Shuffle to my cousin, I went ahead with an instant replacement.

So, I populated this iPod with my favorite playlists (I’ve since learned to create playlists in iTunes rather than straight to my iPod), and for a year, this became my new BFF, accompanying me at the Big Sur Marathon, America’s Finest Half, and numerous runs, hikes, and weights sessions.  This was all well and good until this past weekend, when I was out on a run and the sleep/wake button became stuck again.  And not only was it stuck, but it was on a repeat loop.  And not only was it on repeat loop, but on repeat of Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane.”  Rather than continuing my run on one big musical acid trip, I decided to turn it off by unplugging my earphone, shorten my run, and make a beeline to the Apple Store again.

This time, the warranty ran out, so my option was to either 1) buy a replacement for $60 (actually it was $75, but the guy misquoted the price) or 2) get 10% off the new iPod nano.  Originally, I thought about getting the iPod Shuffle again, since it’s simple, straight forward, and didn’t have this mechanical problem.  However, since it’s limited to 2G and it costs $44, getting a replacement nano with 16G at $60 that included the radio and fitness feature seemed the better deal.  I wasn’t considering the new iPod nano, since 10% off $150 was just too high of a price point (plus it doesn’t have a clip feature from what I could see, which I like on the nano and shuffle).

So, I went ahead and just bought a $60 replacement (which I’m going to cheat and just put in my May “fun” money category), but I’m still bothered by it.  One, the original cost B $130-150, so to have two of them break down in less than 1.5 years just seems unreasonable.  Two, I’m so wishy-washy that perhaps I should have just gone with the more reliable and simplistic Shuffle, and not the “pretty” but unreliable Nano.  And three, the $60 replacement only has a 90 day warranty, when I think it should be for a year since it should be essentially new (though I’m pretty sure replacement ones are refurbished), and I think the sleep/wake button is pretty faulty since I’m not the only one to voice this matter.

B, God bless his calming and diplomatic soul (I’ve seriously seen this guy mad 3 times in the two years I’ve been with him), said to not trip when I was going batsh!t mad over it, reasoning that it’s the nature of electronics, and that in terms of cost per use it was a great deal since I work out almost every day, and for 1-2 hours a day if not more.  I’m still a bit mad over it, because I still think phones and gadgets should last at least 2-3 years, especially with a company as popular as Apple.  But perhaps that’s just not reasonable since that’s how they keep their business running, and I do admit that iPods are pretty bad arse so I don’t see myself straying from it.  So I suppose I just have to suck it up.  What do you think, or anyone else had experiences like this?

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Confession: Planned May (and August/September) Splurges

Since the beginning of 2013, I’ve managed to pay down more than $1k a month on my debt repayment.  And while I enjoy these chunks of repayment as much as getting the corner piece of a cake with all the delicious frosting, I’ve decided something that might not go over well with my PF friends.  I’ve decided that for May and August/September, though I’m going to use 50% of that amount to pay down my debt, I’m also going to allocate the remaining half for “fun” money.

I’ll wait until people stop shaking their heads in disappointment.

I have to confess – I’m a complete pansy.  And this whole spending deprivation – I’m getting kind of burnt out.  I’m still sticking to my no shopping for clothes, shoes, and race fees – save for races, I actually don’t miss any of it.  But I am using the money in May for some justifiable needs, but also some luxury items.  I’m going to use it for contacts and possibly a new retainer (I’m Type A in wearing it every night, my grill cost me a bundle to fix so these suckers are staying straight), but also “frou-frou” skincare products, shampoo, conditioner, and some make-up.  Things I use on a daily basis and will last for quite some time, but still add up to a pretty penny.

In August/September, as well, I’m going to give myself a break since some really important birthdays are around that time.  B’s (so I might actually use July for this 50% break if we end up going on a trip), my mom’s 60th (don’t tell her I told you), my bro’s and sis-in-law’s birthdays (usually a nice dinner), my bff’s and her son’s (usually a dinner and a learning toy, respectively), and my grandma’s (usually a “date day” with her).  This might actually end up being more than 50%, if visits to B’s fam in Washington and my mom in Arizona occur, but family’s not something I will sacrifice since I barely see them enough as it is.

I’m not changing my retirement/savings/investment allocations, but I am aware that this will probably set me back until the end of 2013 from my debt elimination goal.  There is a part of me that thinks “Man, it’s only a year, suck it up, yo!”, but I am kinda vain, and my close relationships are important to me, so I’m going to budget these breaks in (and I won’t even try to justify them as non-quantifiable investments).

I was more afraid to post it than guilty of planning it, to be quite honest.  But I’m okay with it.

Posts to #FF

Sunset from my balcony

Sunsets, I love you so

Happy Happy Friday!  This weekend will be pretty busy with celebrating my two year anniversary with B and helping some family members move (does anyone else enjoy moving as much as I do?  It’s like putting “gym theory” into actual practice!), so I thought I would kick start it by sharing some of my favorite posts lately.  Erin posted #FF on the Twitter and after trying to figure out what that meant (friends forever? funny folks? freaky fingers?), I just ended up Googling it and found out it meant Friday Follow.  So here’s some #FF for your reading pleasure:

1) I don’t think there’s anything absolutely more adorable than Budget and the Beach’s guest post from her cat, Pepe.  He shares his trials and tribulations with health and E-funds, as well as the mutual unconditional love between him and his mother.

2) Johnny Moneyseed’s post on delayed gratification is also a great read, and encourages you to gain more self-awareness with spending.  I’ve definitely learned a lot from him in terms of my wants/needs spending.

3) I really liked Holly’s post on her carefully thought out lifestyle inflation situation, which I thought was mutually beneficial for both parties and gave Holly and Greg a bit more breathing room with their insane schedule (seriously, not sure how they do it!).

4) I learned something new from GMD’s post on Canadian Medicare – I totally thought it was free or was paid through the high taxes incurred, but am relieved to read from the comments that I wasn’t the only one.  I really hope her headaches stop after getting new specs/lenses!

5) I love Mochimac’s fashion posts, because she’s both minimalist and has great fashion sense.  Plus how she arranges her pieces are always so aesthetically pleasing and well thought out.  As an aside, her investing series posts are also very informative, though my pea brain has to read them in small doses.

6) Do or Debt posted an all too common (and sometimes awkward) situation of splitting the bill during group get-togethers.  I just tend to state that I’m going to opt out of family style and just buy something small for myself and then pitch in for the person we’re celebrating.  I end up looking like a cheapskate, but I don’t eat as much as most so I’ve become okay with it.

7) Mackenzie posts about her fondness for the PF community, and I could not agree more!

8) Harry takes on The (Hilton) Man and wins – kind of restores my faith that companies do care about customer service.

9) Erin’s dad put a candy tax on her and her sister when they were wee little lasses, and I think that’s an absolutely great idea in teaching kids financial responsibility and reality.

Hope you enjoy the reads and that you have a wonderful weekend!

April Midpoint Check-In

I’ve been glued to the latest news of the Boston explosions recently – as much as it sickens me that some malicious asshole(s) did this, I am glad to see and read about the tales of heroism and kindness during the aftermath.  These stories have moved me to tears, and restores any doubt in my faith in humanity.  Rather than try to say anything about it, I’ll just defer to Patton Oswalt who stated it best.

Anyway, I am a couple of days late for my midpoint check in of my April goals, but here’s my progress so far (probably click for better view):

April_midpoint

1) Run 75 miles, with 2 hill repeats sessions on Torrey Pines – on track with 58% miles completed and 1 hill session!  My achilles have been hurting lately, though, so I might lower mileage next month and add spin classes or “Stairway to Hell” (aka revolving staircase) sessions.

2) Meet all the calisthenic metrics (burpees, side planks with push-ups, walking lunges, push-ups), and 4 each of back/bi, chest/tri, delts/legs sessions – aside from push-ups, I think I’m fairly on target.  Knowing that I have to report it has motivated me to get up earlier so I can complete my running and lifting sessions, so that’s pretty cool.

3) 12 sweets this month – ruh-oh, Shaggy, I’m 2/3 into my Scooby snack “rations” for the month.  The beginning of the month was stressful work-wise, which probably explains my stress eating during that time period.  Not sweating this part, yet.

4) Stick to or go under $600 in expenses (groceries, going out, gas, gifts, miscellaneous), and meet a 25% want metric – man, apparently I’ve been a little crazy with spending.  If I stayed home for the rest of the month, I would be okay, but this weekend I’m going to OC to help some family members move (part of my family drama from before), and I have a feeling I’ll be footing any meal bills (plus I need to pay for gas to get up there).  I can control most of the grocery bills at home, though, so maybe it’ll balance out in the end, or at least not have it be so high.

5) Study Spanish for at least 10 hours – even though I use this spreadsheet on a daily basis, I spaced on this goal.  Unless watching “Amorres Perros” for the 156th time counts?  Didn’t think so.  How about listening to Spanish music on my runs?  No?  Man, you’re a tough judge… I’ll make it up.

6) 4 new healthy recipes – yes, kind of, since some of these recipes aren’t full on healthy or too easy to make, so I’ll try out more this month.  A friend and I brought brunch to a couple who recently had a baby, so I made egg mini frittatas (from leftover Easter ham) and gluten-free waffles with blueberries for them (holy crap, gf flour is expensive!).  I also tried this chicken and quinoa dish (super yums), as well as this mini-pizza muffin recipe, again with leftover Easter ham.  For dessert, I’m trying to find lower-fat stuff since B and I both have a sweet tooth, and tried this pudding and graham cracker recipe out (minus the cool whip and using nonfat milk).  It was pretty tasty and letting it sit overnight gave the graham cracker a cake-y texture.  I’m going to try it with vanilla pudding and strawberries next.

How are your April goals going so far?  Any suggestions for May goals?

Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt

I was thinking lately about how a lot of the tactics I put into losing weight are fairly similar to how I’m handling my debt payoff.  There’s been a few bloggers who have written about the correlation between keeping both physically and financially fit, and most recently Cash Rebel wrote about the positive feedback cycle from keeping track of both, so I thought I’d put in my two cents on the topic:

1) Treating food, and money, as fuel – I tend to have an addictive personality, and much like I emotionally ate, I also emotionally spent in excess.  However, when that “light bulb” moment came when I decided to lose weight, I started letting go of my emotional attachments to food, and started to view it as fuel.  And although I still obtain enjoyment from it since I have the Biggest Sweet Tooth This Side of the Mississippi(tm), I predominantly still view food to help me improve my physical being and health.  The same can be said with money – after I stopped my emotional codependence to shopping, I started to view it as fuel to help me obtain necessities in life.  Sure, I’ll still like some nice things once in awhile, but overall I am (starting) to view it as a mere commodity to help me sustain or improve my quality of life (and not inflate it).

2) Making food, and money, work for you – Mr. 1500 recently wrote a post about making money work for you.  Hopefully I don’t botch up his premise, but he’s essentially stating that with one dollar, you can either spend it on something fleeting, or you can invest it and give it a chance to grow and work for you.  I agree with this notion, and slowly implementing it in my daily actions, and feel it’s the same way with food/calories.  You can either eat something with empty calories and have it do nothing for you (or perhaps even be a disservice), or you can eat healthful foods that work for you so that you build muscle, improve your circulation or skin, and keep you lean.

3) Drinking “free calories” and finding free stuff to do – a popular weight-loss notion is that if you’re considering eating something, to drink some water first because you might just be thirsty.  Since learning this, I drink a lot of water and more often than not it fills me up just fine.  The best part is that it’s free, and it helps with my skin tone and activities since I’m well hydrated.  I kind of feel it’s the same with finding free activities – there’s a lot of simple pleasures out there that are free, whether it be a nice hike or reading a book, and it’s a good feeling to know that you didn’t pay for said simple pleasures, and that you still feel overall satisfied.

4) Eat Less/Move More, Spend Less/Make More – pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re trying to lose weight, there really is no magical formula other than eat less (and below your “maintenance” range) and move more.  Well, if you’re trying to pay off debt, it’s the same thing – spend below your means and try to think of extra ways to make money.  With the former, I suppose you have to strike a balance since you don’t want to go to any extreme, but for the most part that principle rings true in both cases.

5) Getting a realistic view of what you really need in life, both in calories and money – when I got serious about losing weight, I signed up to join Weight Watchers, and it gave me an idea of what portion sizes are/looked like and educated me on calorically dense foods, but didn’t frown upon the occasional taco so long as I kept at the calorie range (or “points”) for the day.  It was during those few months when I realized – you really don’t need to eat a lot, and restaurants these days have made portion sizes so out of control that “true” sizes look miniscule in comparison.  After unlearning disproportionate portions, and re-learning what true sizes actually are, I was able to lose weight a lot quicker since it clicked that I’m still eating full meals, just not gigantic ones where I’m overeating.  I think it’s the same with money – before, I always seemed to feel that I never had “enough” money which is why I was always in debt.  But now, since I’ve unlearned that I don’t need to do all this out of control spending to keep up with the Joneses, I can get a better grasp of what I actually need versus what I think I did.  The result is that I’m learning to live within or below my means since I’ve actualized what the portion size of my expenses really are, and paying off my debt quicker by doing so.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m human and still enjoy gluttonous splurges.  A strategy that’s really helped me out is the 80%/20% rule, in that I eat clean and keep fit 80% of the time, but allow a 20% “free pass” to eat sweets/savories or take some down time.  Well, I think the same can be said for personal finance once I’m relieved of my debt – to live below my means and invest 80% of the time, but allow for splurges that are important to me, like travel and clothes, for 20% of the time (Hrm, maybe 90%/10%, since I can’t wait to throw more money into investing).

Are there other times when you think they’re similar?

Resistance is futile?

Back when I was a 20-something spring chicken, I made it a goal to run a marathon.  It actually took me about 2-3 training attempts to complete one, but when I did I think it was because I announced it.  Publicly declaring my goal, and fundraising for it simultaneously, made me finish what I started since I didn’t want to both disappoint anyone who donated nor be embarrassed by not going through with it.

So, when I decided to finally get off my self-entitled, consumerist high horse, get rid of my debt, and increase my net worth, I publicly declared it.  To B, my loved ones, and of course on this here blog.  This blog and its readers have given me tremendous support and motivation, that I honestly attribute my chunks of debt repayment because of it.  B is also very supportive – whenever a fleeting frivolity catches my eye, he kindly reminds commands that I’m “on a budget!”, so much so that it’s now a running joke around the house.  So when he saw that I put a modest amount in the church offerings for Easter and called me out on it, I kindly snarkily reminded him that “I’m on a budget.”

However, when I try to explain to friends and family, I’m at times met with resistance.  Whenever I declare that I’m on a year long shopping abstinence or that I’m getting rid of stuff to achieve a more minimalist environment, I’ve been met with the following responses:

Mom: “Why??  You have you treat yourself sometimes, you deserve it!”

Friends: “But you deserve massages sometimes, they’re so relaxing and you work so hard!” or “But why??”

Coworkers: (laughter) “We’ll see after the first month!” or “Well, how about just buy one thing every three months or something, you might not last through the year!”

I suppose these reactions are two-fold – one, as much as I thought I wasn’t too bad in my spending, that I must have been a big consumer to elicit such responses.  And two, that perhaps the majority of people are Borgs consumption-obsessed, and might not understand why I’m doing this.  While I know that my loved ones just have the best intentions and don’t mean any harm by their comments, I do find their reactions odd since it seems like a positive thing to shoot for.  I mean, it’s one silly year out of (hopefully) many – so I’m going to resist Borg assimilation the consumerist noise and carry on.

I’m wondering if anyone else has been met with resistance, or maybe looked at weirdly, whenever they declare something PF-related that might not be the norm.  And if so, how do you respond?

P.S. Despite the references that would prove otherwise, I’m definitely on Team Star Wars.

P.P.S. And just in case the more youthful folks don’t know what a Borg is (cough GMD cough), here’s the reference.  Get it?  Because Borgs are famous for saying “Resistance is futile” and that’s the title – clever, eh?  Or… not.

Currently… the overshare edition!

Since I’ve had mad writer’s block lately and dug Mackenzie’s latest post on current ongoings, I figured I’d share (and overshare) as well:

1) I paid off ~$900 in my loans this morning, holla!  Let’s see how else I can bring my debt balance down this month.

2) After my run this morning, I realized that I forgot to pack my regular bra to work.  I double up on my sports bra so I’m wearing the less sweaty one, but this makes me all sorts of uncomfortable and wiggle worm today.  At least it’s not as bad as the time I packed two left boots.

3) Mad financial drama is going on with some of my family members, but it’s challenging to discuss the details so I’ll refrain.  On one hand, I feel bad because I’ve chosen not to help out, but on the other I don’t feel bad because I think it would just enable the situation.  I just don’t understand how people are okay with not working for years decades at a time and having others pick up the slack.

4) #2 and #3 were the overshares, in case you were wondering.

5) I had a “saggy diapers” moment after seeing the Coachella line up – I’ve been a couple of times and have loved it, but not going is very beneficial for my pocketbook and brain cell preservation.

6) Who’s all thumbs and actually went “Ooooh!” when I saw a news clip that the 2014 Honda Odyssey has a built in Shop-Vac feature? *points thumbs towards me* – This girl! #iamanoldlady

7) I am aware #6 is still very consumerist of me, but at least it’s a van and not a gas-guzzling SUV!

8) I LOVE this: